Six of Philly’s seven Democratic mayoral candidates came out to Next Great City’s mayoral forum on sustainability issues on Tuesday night and guess what: bicycling was a huge issue for the candidates on stage.
The event was covered by a number of Philly news outlets, including the Inquirer, Billy Penn, Philadelphia Magazine, Green Philly Blog, Newsworks and Philly Voice. We’ve rounded up some excerpts from those media outlets regarding bikes, and hope you can share them with your social media networks.
It’s important to keep the momentum going this election season to the very end, and that as many of you as possible RSVP and come out to the Better Mobility 2015 forum on March 19 at the Friends Center, where candidates will discuss the issues outlined in the Better Mobility 2015 platform.
If we want Philadelphia’s mayoral candidates to commit to a better Philadelphia and a better cycling and walking network around the city, we need to get them on the record stating what, exactly, they’re prepared to do as mayor—and how much of the Better Mobility 2015 platform (which has been endorsed by numerous diverse groups, from the Clean Air Council to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce) they plan to implement during their tenure.
As you will see below, not everyone agrees on the issues, but the point is they’re talking about it—meaning when it comes time to vote, you’ll at least know who’s on your side.
Plastic bags, bike-sharing programs, and Philadelphia City Council powers have not been big issues thus far in this year’s mayoral race, but Tuesday night, they offered unexpected opportunities for candidates to stand apart.
That concern for the have-nots also influenced the positions of Goodman and Williams when it came to the discussion of bike lanes and bike-sharing programs.
While the other candidates spoke largely of wanting to expand the number of bike lanes, Goodman and Williams expressed concern that the coming bike-share program would prove too expensive for the city’s poorest residents, who might be the most in need of such transportation.
Overall impressions: While Lynne Abraham didn’t name him by name, she’s undoubtedly going after likely frontrunner Anthony Williams when she says over and over that she’ll “be no one’s mayor but yours.” Abraham had some good ideas about biking and environmentalism, but her strengths often lie in public safety issues which really weren’t addressed tonight. She did fine — nothing bad, nothing spectacular either.
Bike-related issues: Abraham said that there has to be more done to try to figure out more bike lanes and trails, but admitted that her dream is to see a New York City-style High Line park going through Center City to provide a place for people to walk around the city. Though, she said, that’s a longterm dream.
Overall impressions: Nelson Diaz is an experienced judge and political figure, but he has trouble with, eh, volume and keeping things short. Seriously, moderator Dave Davies actually told him twice that he needed to shorten his answers, and at several points it kinda sounded like he was screaming. Diaz clearly has strong feelings about education and where it needs to go in the city, but he struggled to outline specific policies for getting things done besides, basically, “eff the SRC.” He’s also clearly trying to grab the women vote — when asked something interesting about *himself* he talked about his wife who fights for equal rights for women.
Bike-related issues: On Philly Bike Share, Diaz said he “loves riding bikes,” and that “we have to make it accessible to everyone.”
Overall impressions: This was one of the first times the public has seen Rev. Keith Goodman in action. The North Philadelphia pastor recently announced his candidacy for election, and his inexperience showed tonight. While Goodman seemed to have good ideas for tapping into the city’s underserved communities, he didn’t come up with specific policy ideas and seemed to bounce more off of what the other candidates were saying than pave his own way.
Overall impressions: Obviously Jim Kenney is a decades-long veteran of Philadelphia government, and one of his most clear strengths is being able to get into the policy weeds and show that he really does know what he’s talking about. However, Kenney got some strange looks when one of his ideas for affordable housing was building homes out of… shipping containers? Still confused on this one, Jim.
Bike-related issues: Kenney basically said that he used to get really pissed at bike riders in the city before he understood their importance. “There needs to be an education process,” he said, “when we explain to people, ‘you have to learn to calm down and allow the person riding the bike to share the space with you.’”
Overall impressions: Doug Oliver is deeeefinitely trying to tap into the millennial vote. We already knew that, but he pounded it home tonight. He advocated for better bike lanes and environmental sustainability, and was the only candidate to voluntarily mention keeping millennials in the city. In fact, Oliver spent the majority of his closing statement discussing how “we’re kidding ourselves” if we think the city can continue thriving and growing if millennials move in for a few years and then promptly move out.
Overall impressions: So it was a little awkward because Anthony Williams was an hour late (it was icy and budget day, we forgive him) and was then kinda scolded by Davies for being on his phone like five minutes into him being there. Anyway, once Williams started caring about being in the room, he did just fine. Obviously this long-time senator is comfortable working a crowd and discussing policy, and clearly stood up for underserved communities and neighborhoods. Lucky for him, he really didn’t have to address his support of charter schools, the position he’s been hammered for most recently.
Bike-related issues: “Obviously I ride a lot, can’t you tell?” Williams joked. LOL, good one, Tony. He added that bikes are an intersection of the haves and have-nots — the people who ride bikes because they want to and the people who ride bikes because they have to. He said Philly Bike Share should, and will, continue to work to move into underserved neighborhoods to provide opportunities for those residents.
GFB used reporters’ and others tweets to show where the candidates stood on each issue. Here’s a screenshot.
From Chestnut Hill to Point Breeze, Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods.
And, hundreds of people turned out at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Tuesday night to hear six of the Democrats running for mayor debate about how to improve those neighborhoods.
At the forum, hosted by the Next Great City Coalition, the candidates agreed on the need for more bike lanes, cutting taxes for small businesses and fixing the schools.